I lived in Ireland for ten years from 2003-2013. Ireland is a country that doesn’t produce many fossil fuels (except for bog turf which is burned like coal); everything is imported from other countries. Unlike the USA, Ireland has to look for sources of renewable energy as fossil fuels like petrol, coal, and gas can be costly (there is no nuclear power there). The culture there is very positive towards renewable energy and recycling. This is where my interest started.
I feel that the USA has become lazy and behind the rest of the world when it comes to renewable energy and “green” houses. This is probably because fossil fuels are relatively inexpensive here and don’t need to be imported. I know that adopting green features in the home, recycling, renewable energy, and choosing Energy Star appliances will help the planet for the future and also lower my bills while making the indoor quality of air healthier.
Here are some simple ways that we personally save money in our household and also help the environment: On days above 55F, I dry the washing on a clothesline outside. We have changed our lightbulbs to LED (use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting). I open windows when the temp outside is at least 65F to circulate and refresh the indoor air. We changed the shower heads to a low-flow high-efficiency style. We keep the thermostat at 65F in the winter and use the whole house fan to cool the house in the summer. We put in hardwood floors with a zero VOC hardwax oil stain. Our new furnace is the Energy Star high-efficiency model which cuts down on monthly bills (we took out the electric baseboards two years ago and retrofitted with a forced air system). We have sealed the leaky windows with caulking and added insulation to knee-walls and the attic (we had the Efficiency Works energy audit through XCEL). We still have more work to do (when we get a new kitchen it will be all Energy Star appliances), but at least now we have cut our electricity bills in half and have improved the indoor air quality of our 1993 home.
If you have the same interests as I do in retrofitting an older home or seeking a home with green features, please contact me. I am getting my designation in the National Association of Realtors GREEN and would love to help you! Here is a great website for finding state incentives for renewable energy: DSIRE